Over the last several years games claiming to be about choice have gone from a getting a welcome reception to curious skepticism. The decisions being made were often binary and ultimately lacked the desired or advertised effect. Vagabond Dog’s first game, Always Sometimes Monsters, puts you in scenarios and situations that will give you pause, make you regret decisions and maybe even put a knot in your stomach.
Always Sometimes Monsters places heavy emphasis on writing and not necessary the visuals. Vagabond Dog went with visuals that are retro and very similar to something found in an RPG maker. Their art style choice is fine. The game begins with what seems like success and soon replaces it with despair. You wake up, your significant other is gone, is engaged to someone else and you are late on your rent. Your character’s hopes and dreams are almost within arms reach but you must secure more immediate needs, like food and shelter. Which forces you to earn some money. But how? You can work a rather mundane day shift manufacturing food, as a freelance reporter or you can do some more shady things to get by. These are just a few examples but I like that even engaging in seemingly ethical activities can be comprised of several shades of grey.
Mechanically Always Sometimes Monsters is fairly simple. It uses the arrow keys and the enter(or spacebar) on the keyboard. The only real constraint is your stamina meter. That meter is affected by your lack of sleep and much more directly tied to your need for food. Realistic themes, ambiguous choices, mini-games, social and game industry commentary(without judging) and mature dialogue await. Always Sometimes Monster has some rough edges but nothing that kept me from enjoying it.
Recommendation*: Worth a buy
Full Disclosure: This game was provided to GameEnthus by the publisher.
Developer: Vagabond Dog
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Worth a buy – paying full price for fans of the series or genre makes sense – often includes a caveat
Worth a buy on sale – not quite full price worthy but close, – often includes a caveat
Rent – rent before buying
No – borrow it if you must play it
Please no – Don’t waste any time and/or money on it